BWW Reviews: Off-Broadway's A CHARITY CASE Makes A Compelling Argument

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Alison Fraser, Alysia Reiner, and Jill Shackner, together, are a powerful force to be reckoned with. A Charity Case opened Off-Broadway at the Clurman Theatre and gives us an insightful look into the private lives of a 17-year old adopted daughter who is torn between her biological mother, adoptive mother, and finding her own identity somewhere in between. A provocative, powerful and sometimes disturbing drama, A Charity Case examines the unknown, the "what-ifs", and the "what could have beens," especially when the adoptive parent is less than picture perfect.

17-year old Deidre (played by Jill Shackner) is a lost soul, torn between her self-absorbed adoptive mother, her unknown biological mother, and finding her own identity. Although a single, struggling mom, adoptive mother, Faith (Alison Fraser), endeavors to find her own way while attempting to nurture and love her daughter in a way in which she has never known. The natural self-sacrificing motherly instinct is lacking, however, and is evidenced when, after tearing apart Deidre's homecoming dress and ruining her daughter's plans, she looks at her and unwittingly asks, "Do you like my hairstyle? Isn't mommy beautiful?" The biological but delusional mother, Harpie, questions her own decisions, mistakes, and judgements, and ultimately sets out to find a way to say she's sorry.

Two-Time Tony Nominee, Alison Fraser is magnificent as "Faith," playing the drunk, self-obsessed single mother, who is more concerned with her own aging beauty and volatile relationship with her boyfriend rather than establishing a healthy life with her daughter. She throws aside all stereotypes of a traditional adoptive family in lieu of her own self-absorbed motives.

Jill Shackner is brilliant as the adopted daughter, "Deidre." Not only does she maintain her innocence and youth, but she often times plays the true "mother" of the family by caring for her abused, selfish, drunken mother. Although struggling with her own identity, she is extraordinarily mature and insightful as she cares for her adoptive mother while still on a mission to find her own heritage.

Rounding out this stellar cast is Alysia Reiner, who plays the biological mom, "Harpie." Powerfully and emotionally acted, Harpie struggles with the voices in her own head and questions her motives, judgements, and decisions of giving up her beloved daughter.

Convincingly written and directed by Wendy Beckett, this compelling, dynamic play will leave you questioning the mother-daughter relationship as it relates to the best interests of the child. Very impactive and poignant, A Charity Case will open discussions, raise questions, and create controversy within the most sacred of all relationships between a mother and daughter, whether biological or adopted. Case closed.

The playing schedule for A Charity Case is as follows: Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8pm, with matinees on Saturday at 2pm and Sundays at 3pm at the Clurman Theatre, Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd Street, NYC thru November 20th.  For tickets, call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200, or, or visit  

Photo Credit:  Kevin Thomas Garcia


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From This Author Christina Mancuso